Tecla’s galley and dining room is a quaint, cosy and dimly lit place below deck. And it became especially so after the first couple of days when we were all over our seasickness and our rapacious appetites were back. Variously we’d pile around the table. And if the people on the back or side benches needed to leave we’d all have to shuffle and stand to let the offender out. The walls were covered in Tecla’s history of achievement and glory along with assorted memorabilia and gifts from past passenger/crew. Amazingly these remained fastened to the wall during even the most vigorous of pitches and sways.
The pride of place in the galley is the buxom mermaid (What mermaid is not suitably buxom I ask?) prominently hung in the corner. But interestingly enough noone ever spoke of her. Not a question from us ‘trainees’. Not a hint as to her pedigree from the Tecla’s family crew. And so her mystery remains.
Morning’s would invariably start with the wafting yeasty aromas of the morning bread bake. I’d be dozing after from my midnight to 4am watch and the pleasant bread-making smells heralded a breakfast that I never actually partook in. During my Tasman-crossing days I was on a two-meal-per-day regime plus snacks. Getting up at 7:30am after having maybe finally gotten to sleep at 5am just wasn’t working for me. So I was content to at least get the daily aromatic dose of fresh baked bread smells. These however, invariably mixed with the faint and wafting sewerage smells emanating from the gurgling plumbing in our twin bunk cabins. And the plumbing gurgled more when the seas were rougher. And when the seas were rougher less bread was usually baked. And so on the days I needed the yeast the most I was left in a dank dark cabin in a state that not even the buxom mermaid could remedy.